Cliven Bundy's cousin Terri Robertson chalks up the Nevada rancher's incendiary remarks about minorities to his religious upbringing, she told GQ magazine in story published Wednesday.
Explaining that she and Bundy were raised as Mormons, Robertson said, "For the first 130 years of our church, they taught that black people carried the curse of Cain," adding, "That's why their skin was black. He was raised in a racist predicament."
Robertson said she has left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Bundy attends his local Mormon church, according to AP. The LDS church in 1978 lifted its longtime ban on the ordination of minorities into the priesthood.
Bundy, who became a national figure when his fight against the federal government over grazing rights gained widespread attention earlier this year, suggested in remarks first reported by the New York Times in April that he wondered if African Americans were better off as slaves.
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” Bundy said. “I’ve often wondered: Are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
The comment drew widespread condemnation, including from politicians who defended Bundy in his standoff against the federal government. Bundy later offered a seemingly contradictory apology: He asked for forgiveness but added that he meant what he said.
Bundy told GQ he believes the federal government should play a "very limited" role in the lives of Americans.
"And part of the parts is like what I tell Senator Harry Reid. What do I say? Nevada citizens elected you, Harry, to go back and be a senator and do certain things. We elected you to take care of, for example, affairs with foreign countries. And we might have elected you, Harry, to come back in Nevada and choose the color of the walls in the post office," he said.